But he did keep us fed. That year we stuffed ourselves with spaghetti, which I didn’t mind so much, and with fish, which I minded muchly. The brothers and I stuffed our faces with tuna fish sandwiches and canned salmon and sardines and more tuna fish sandwiches and more canned salmon and more sardines and breaded fish sticks when we got bored with tuna fish sandwiches and canned salmon and sardines, which occurred about as often as we ate tuna fish sandwiches and canned salmon and sardines with breaded fish sticks to break the boredom of eating—you get the drift. Please allow me to point out here that the ability of breaded fish sticks to break the monotony of a diet based on tuna fish sandwiches and canned salmon and sardines is minimal to the point of nonexistence, despite the best efforts of my mother to convince us to the contrary. The result of this frenzy of forced fish feeding was to convert what might otherwise have been a mild dislike for seafood into a full-scale loathing of all that comes from the sea. I don’t even like going to the beach because I know there’s fish in the water. That’s right, people, just in case you didn’t know this, there’s fish out there and you are swimming in the same stuff they move their bowels in. You may enjoy the idea of swimming in a big hole filled with undrinkable water and fish feces, there’s no accounting for tastes, after all, but I don’t, not by a long shot.
I bring this bit of family trivia up here because I am sure that the whole country is about to get a fish dinner and we are going get the dinner whether we want it or not. And not just any fish, either. Yes indeed, all of us here in this our Great Republic are about to chow down on more red herring than any one human being knows what to do with, red herring served in more ways than anyone ever thought possible. Why is that, you ask? Because it is an election year here in the best of all possible worlds and the former junior senator from Illinois has a problem. He wants to be the leader of the Free World for another four years—it is, after all, a good way to bring one’s golf game up to par—but it seems he may have some difficulty convincing the citizenry to return him to his current office. I am not sure why this is so; at best, the newspapers and the television news channels treat the public’s reluctance on the matter as something terribly unseemly, as if someone had brought a pitcher of margaritas to a meeting of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, and so they try to avoid talking about it at all, and, at worst, they become very angry when someone brings it up more than once in polite conversation. From the few hints I’ve managed to pick up here and there, it would appear that somewhere along the line our Illinois Incitatus has acquired a public record, and that no matter from what angle you choose to look at it, this public record is less than completely flattering.
I must admit that I could scarcely credit this bit of information when I first heard it. The Current Occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington D.C. 20500 has made a career out of not having a record, any kind of record. As far as anyone can tell, he arose from the waves of the sea off Hawaii a half-century ago like a Polyindokenyankansanesian Aphrodite, except Aphrodite had nicer legs, and since then nothing much has happened to him that’s any of anyone’s business except his. To make sure things stay that way, all his relevant personal records are in a bomb-proof safe tucked under his mattress and that this mattress has its own Secret Service detail, a platoon of New York Times editorial writers, and a battalion of the 82nd Airborne Division stationed nearby to lend the Treasury agents a hand in case someone tries to get a copy of his fifth grade report card. The secret of whether or not he plays well with others is obviously more important than such mundane matters as the identity of the Pakistani doctor who helped us find a mass murderer of Americans, but then, it’s all a question of priorities, isn’t it?
No, records were always someone else’s problem. If you were a Republican with a less than perfect marital record and you were running for office against Chicago’s own boy wonder [Wow, he said Chicago! He said boy! How racist is that?!], you could fully expect that the newspapers would demand access to your sealed court records—enquiring minds want to know, after all—that some judge who owes his job to the Cook County Democratic Committee would unseal those records, purely in the interest of the people’s right to know, you understand, and that the newspapers would then splash the gory details of your divorce all over their front pages, with special emphasis given to the more salacious bits. Yes, unsealed records are a great thing; they make life so much easier and allow One to concentrate on finding new and more efficient ways of delivering platitudes piled high with generalities, while the Republican does his best to convince the electorate that he is not some kind of wife-beating pervert.
So the problem that Our Leader seems to face, other than his opponents this time around being married to their first wives, which renders the always shovel ready project of digging up dirt on them that much harder, is that he has done something other than play golf and vote present in the four years that he has lived in the Potomac slough of despond. I can’t imagine what he could have been thinking; a man this careful not to have a record anyone could check would hardly be so dumb as to do something that someone would notice him doing, but people tell me that this is not the case. There is, and stranger things have happened, although I can’t think of any right off the top of my head, an actual record that people know about. Well, I was gobsmacked, as my sainted grandmother used to say. Not only did he do something, but a lot of people don’t like what he did, and hence all that red herring he will have to peddle. Yes, America is in for red herring for the soup, the salad, the main course, and probably dessert as well, because talking about seafood is a lot more interesting than talking about whatever it is he’s been doing besides golfing these past four years. You can take that to the bank, as my sainted grandmother didn’t used to say, largely because she didn’t trust banks. Bon appetit, everyone!